Why We Make At MPA

Lower School Students making sculptures in the Makerspaceby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

As I attend the concerts, art shows, and special grade-level events this month, I am reminded that May is a wonderful celebration of the maker mindset cultivated throughout the curriculum at MPA. I recently came across an article that explained the purpose of a makerspace. I found it descriptive of what happens in our own Makerspace and affirming of the pedagogy behind why we do what we do in that space. However, upon further reading and reflecting, I found that the maker mindset described extends to every classroom and the principles on which our school was founded.

Classroom teacher, university professor, and author John Spence defines a makerspace as “simply a space designed and dedicated to hands-on creativity,” he explains, “and the key thing there is they’re actually making something. Creativity is sometimes idea generation, it’s sometimes problem-solving. But (in) a makerspace, you’re actually going to create some kind of product.” It has been my experience that at MPA, one could easily take out the word makerspace in the above quote and insert “music classroom,” “art studio,” “physical education class,” “science classroom,” “playground,” etc. Throughout every area of the school, MPA teachers encourage, and the curriculum reflects, core values of design thinking including problem-based learning, critical thinking, divergent thinking, among other common values within the makerspace movement. Read More

Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be

college counseling at mpaby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

A Middle School mother recently shared with me a conversation she had with her child. At the dinner table one night this week, her son burst into tears. He said, “I’m so stressed out because I don’t know what the right career is for me.” If the stress and anxiety over colleges and careers is beginning for students in Middle School, I know it is beginning for parents even sooner than that.

There is indeed a general anxiety in U.S. culture around the college-application process driven by an inflated importance of attending the “best” school instead of the “right” school. The best fit for one student is not the right fit for the next, even among high-achieving, academically strong, and otherwise talented students.

In his book “Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania,” New York Times columnist Frank Bruni attempts to refocus the search process. In a time that stress and anxiety is associated with the college admissions process, Bruni hopes to “restore the excitement of going off to college, which should be a time for taking intellectual and social chances, for finding or confirming a passion, and for discovering yourself,” rather than getting caught up with getting into elite, higher-profile colleges and universities.

Read More

A Conversation About Community

Thirteen years ago, Mounds Park Academy Class of 2019 students were in kindergarten. As they graduate this year, 13 of them join MPA’s Joanne Olson Club, reserved for students whose entire K-12 or PreK-12 journey has taken place here at MPA.

In February, many members of this remarkable group were able to come together for a conversation about community. After all, who knows more about the MPA community than students who joined us in kindergarten and now leave the school as young adults, bound for college and a promising future?

Class of 2019 LifersHow has MPA’s community supported and shaped you?
“In Lower School, as we walked to class, we’d high-five older kids. At home we’d tell our parents, ‘I high-fived this huge high schooler today!’ I want to support that community, too.” Parker Law
“Our relationships with teachers forge respect between adults and kids. We talk to our teachers about social-life issues, real-world issues, our opinions, and more. That’s shaped my relationships with adults outside school.” Tara Samsel
“Teachers encourage these relationships. I’m comfortable talking to people much older than I am.” Emilie Davidson
“We’ve grown up surrounded by older kids and loving adults. So that age difference doesn’t seem as big.” Gabby Law Read More

MPA Inspires Me

middle school boys high fivingby Jenn Milam, Ph.D., Middle School Director

Editor’s Note: On the first Thursday of each month, you will find a guest Head’s Message here from one of MPA’s division directors. We hope you enjoy reading their thoughts and reflections about life at MPA.

It seems almost unbelievable that as you read this, we have just 21 days of school left before we depart for sunnier days, fewer lunches to pack, and more time to explore this great big world around us. For me, it seems even more unreal that just a few days from now my family and I will have been here for only nine months. As one of the newest members of the MPA family, I often get asked “What’s been the best thing about coming to MPA?” And depending on the day, sometimes the time of day, that answer varies—I do work with middle schoolers, after all! The one thing I always return to, though, is that it is easy to acclimate to goodness here because there is so much of it. I am grateful for my newness to the community because it has allowed me the privilege and joy to see the good, first hand, with a fresh set of eyes.

This week, I want to share with you, our MPA community, my top 10 list of things that have inspired me this year—the top 10 reasons why I am so happy to call MPA my home, to have my own children at MPA, and to serve your children. Read More

Join Us For Lunch at MPA

Two fifth graders with kindergartenerOn Tuesday, May 14 from 11:30 AM-1 PM, MPA will host Lunch At MPA for prospective families!

Visit campus during a regular school day to meet school administrators over a casual meal and tour the campus to see our students and teachers in action.

RSVP in advance for this engaging program at moundsparkacademy.org/RSVP. If you have any questions, contact the Office of Admission at 651-748-5577 or admission@moundsparkacademy.org.

We can’t wait to meet you!

Summer Enrichment with Kidcreate Studio

Two Lower Schoolers playing with slimeThis summer, Kidcreate Studio is offering some fun enrichment classes at MPA from June 17-21! In Beyond Pinch Pots, students will really have the chance to get messy and learn about a basic clay technique. They will have the option to create silly rabbits, playful penguins, and much more. “Clay can sometimes be challenging,” comments Elena from Kidcreate Studio, “and it’s amazing to see the process click and all of a sudden each student has created a ton of silly masterpieces simply from coil pots!” Beyond Pinch Pots is for kids in grades K-4, and will be from 9 AM-12 PM.

What rules supreme: art projects that glitter or art projects that glow-in-the-dark? There’s no need to choose when you sign up for Glitter & Glow! “Glitter & Glow is obviously a fan favorite for us, as is any class with glitter!” says Elena. “This camp has a really fun spin in that all of the projects also glow in the dark,” she adds. Glitter & Glow is for students in grades K-4, and will be held 1-4 PM throughout the week of June 17th.

“Our tie dye workshop is one of our most popular classes at Kidcreate Studio,” says Elena, “We will get messy with the kids and parents simply get to see the end result! We really take ‘leave the mess with us’ seriously with this one!” Tie-Dye Party will be a one day class being held on June 21, from 9 AM-12 PM for kids in grades K-4.

Lastly, Insane Slime speaks for itself! It’s three hours of slime packed fun. Students get to make a few different kinds of slime, and it’s going to be a messy one, so please dress accordingly. Like Tie-Dye Party, this class is only held on June 21 and is from 1-4 PM, for kids in grades K-4.

To sign up for these classes and more, click here!

I Know We Can

Thomas smiling with his donation to Together, We Dreamby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School 

One of my favorite childhood stories was “The Little Engine That Could.” I remember my father reading the book to me when I was a child, telling me that no matter the obstacles that I face in life, if I work hard and believe in myself, I can do anything. His words have inspired and comforted me throughout my childhood and adult life. Whether it was earning a canoeing merit badge on a windy day as a teen, surviving finals week in college, or writing my doctoral dissertation, I have found the reserve to know that I will be able to persevere and ultimately succeed. It wouldn’t have been unusual, even up to his death, for my dad to send me a note with no words but instead a simple drawing of a train making its way uphill.

I have the same confidence today that together we will meet our goal of $4 million by the very important deadline of May 1 so that we can continue with Together, We Dream: The Campaign for MPA projects. While we have met our goal to fully fund the new cafeteria and kitchen, we are just shy of the amount needed to build the new library. If we do not reach $4 million by May 1—if we do not act now—the library construction phase of the campaign will not be able to start this summer, and costs will increase. From the beginning, our intent was to fully fund these two important projects without risking our short-term and long-term financial sustainability and reaching this milestone will help ensure that. Read More

Upper School Grandparents and Special Friends Day

There were some extra visitors on campus on Wednesday, April 24, as grandparents and special friends visited with their Upper School students throughout the morning. The day started with visitors enjoying breakfast and coffee in the Gallery, while students finished up their first block classes. Afterward, grandparents and friends visited their students in class, and saw a preview performance of this year’s Spring Musical, CHICAGO: HIGH SCHOOL EDITION. The event finished up with a group lunch in the Gallery, provided by SAGE Dining.

Thank you to all the grandparents and special friends who attended the event! It was so nice to have you visit campus. Click here to see more photos of the event!

The Long-Term Outcome Of An MPA Education

by Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

I’m one of the few people who actually enjoys painting a room or even a house. Several years ago, we had our 100-year-old house re-stuccoed, which required scraping and painting the wood trim around the windows. In order to save a few dollars, we decided to do it ourselves. More than 30 windows later and a lot of work, the job was done, and the house looked great. Whether its painting, cooking, or refinishing old furniture, I like seeing the rapid transformation of a finished job. In contrast, the work of educating young people is never finished and there are not often opportunities to see an immediate outcome. Read More

The Intellectual Heart Of MPA

Librarian handing book to studentEditor’s note: We sat down with Nancy Lage, librarian, to ask her a few questions about Together, We Dream: The Campaign for MPA and what impact she sees a new library having on our community.

How will the new library enhance your program and better meet your students’ needs?
The new library will impact our program by providing students more flexible spaces for multiple age groups to learn and collaborate. These spaces can transform how we all work together as a learning community. There will be an expanded technology infrastructure for interactive instruction as well as designated spaces for evolving student artwork and exhibits. A modern and developmentally appropriate children’s room is being designed and inspired by nature. Several of the reading and research spaces will have comfortable seating, natural lighting and individual study spaces as well as a conference room and access to the adjoining outdoor courtyard—all of which will enhance school-wide literacy, activities and events.

What part of the new space are you, as an educator, most excited for?
The library is the intellectual heart of MPA; the primary foundation for knowledge, stories and skills. Moving the new library to the center of the school makes the entire design very exciting to me. Not only will it offer easy access to students, faculty and families, but it will be infused with fresh spaces that provide students a place for personal reflection and self-awareness through literature and knowledge.

How will this library make dreams come true?
The inspiration for this new library began many years ago. To see it happening is truly a dream come true for me, and for so many community members. I am certain that this new library will enrich students’ experiences and encourage life-long learning and the exchange of ideas. My sincere hope is that it will continue to meet the changing needs of the MPA community now and in the years to come. Everyone is welcome to join in the dream!

Honor where we’ve been. Power our way forward. Make a gift at moundsparkacademy.org/donate/together.